After the Brewers signed free agent Kolten Wong, many wondered where Keston Hiura would play. After all, Hiura’s power bat is too valuable to keep out of the lineup. Kolten Wong is a two-time Gold Glove winner at second, so Hiura was going to have to change positions. Some floated the idea that he would play third base, but the Brewers quickly announced that Hiura would be the primary first baseman. That decision left third base as the only position up for grabs. Of course, the Brewers have Luis Urias at third, as well as other young players on depth chart. Additionally, the club recently signed Travis Shaw to a minor league deal with a chance to win the job as well. However, a recent Tweet by the Brewers shows that Orlando Arcia may be in the mix as well.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) February 19, 2021
Why Arcia Would Make Sense at Third
When the Brewers traded Trent Grisham and Zach Davies to the Padres in return for Luis Urias, it was clear that Arcia may not be the short stop of the future. After all, Urias is a superior defender and has the potential to be better offensively. However, when Urias broke his wrist last winter and required a long recovery, Arcia stayed at short. When Urias finally did join the club, he was slotted in at third base, a position that failed to produce for the Brewers in 2021.
Last year, despite being one of the Brewers’ most consistent hitters, Orlando Arcia struggled defensively. While his throwing arm remains strong, it appears that his ability to cover ground at short stop, a vital skill, has peaked and is already declining. A move to third base would be a perfect move for both Arcia and the Brewers. Arcia would not need to cover as much ground at the hot corner, but can still utilize his strong throwing arm. The Brewers can move Urias to his natural position, which will only help his development. Win-win.
Short Stops That Have Moved to Third
Historically speaking, when some short stops have aged and began losing a step, their teams have moved them to third base. The reasons for this are exactly the ones mentioned earlier for Arcia’s possible transition. Their throwing arms are still strong, but their range has declined. There are younger, better defensive players ready to play short, but the incumbent’s bat is too valuable to take out of the lineup. Even though Orlando Arcia is not an offensive force, he is a very serviceable hitter. The Brewers need him in the lineup.
In 1996, in the midst of his consecutive games played streak, Cal Ripken Jr. made the switch from short stop to third base. The move allowed Ripken to continue his streak and he played five seasons at the hot corner before retiring in 2001. He also made five All-Star teams at third.
In 2004, Gold Glove and MVP short stop Alex Rodriguez was traded by the Texas Rangers to the New York Yankees. The Yankees, of course, had Derek Jeter at short stop already, so A-Rod moved to third base. Rodriguez spent the last 12 years of his career at third base (and DH), winning two more MVP Awards.
Of course, Orland Arcia is not a Cal Ripken or Alex Rodriguez. However, their names are brought up to show that a short stop moving to third is not an unprecedented move. Additionally, a short stop can move to third and thrive. Let’s hope that is what happens to Arica.